Heinz: spilling blood and ketchup - Macleans.ca

Heinz: spilling blood and ketchup

Barbara Amiel on the losses of Leamington Ont.


Dave Chidley

Some words have colours you don’t want to see. One of the first I heard was “redundancy” when my stepfather was laid off by the Steel Co. of Canada in Hamilton. His job was on the open-hearth furnaces. A lot of neighbours worked at Stelco too and quickly the streets got quiet. People sat on their doorsteps but weren’t chatting; they were reading the want ads. “Laid off” became a phrase and it was a grimy colour. When I left for school, curtains were drawn and the men with black lunch pails weren’t starting up cars or walking to bus stops. They became invisible and parents and children turned grey with worry. The radio played “I owe my soul to the company store” and the chorus “You load 16 tons, what do you get / Another day older and deeper in debt” matched our fears.

Those memories surfaced when I heard about Leamington, Ont., where the Heinz Co. of Canada announced it was closing its plant after 104 years there. There are 28,000 people in Leamington and only 740 full-time jobs at Heinz but I should think the town has been hit in the groin. Timing doesn’t make much difference but everything seems harder when it’s November and there is more darkness. Those bloody Christmas jingles on the car radio, the endless ecumenical chant of “Happy holidays” and the feeling that everyone else in the world is celebrating creeps into your bones. Maybe there will be good redundancy pay but maybe not. There are mortgages and plans for your kids’ schooling and perhaps someone is sick and treatment costs money and the family pet becomes an expense too far. You have to be a saint not to hate the world’s pleasures.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she tried hard to save the plant. Warren Buffett bought out Heinz and appointed the former CEO of Burger King to run it and then McDonald’s cancelled its contract for ketchup with Heinz. McDonald’s may have been one of the biggest contractors Heinz had for the ketchup and I don’t expect McDonald’s thought it wanted to help anyone with the remotest connection to its competitor Burger King. Warren Buffett is very folksy and sometimes he sits around in a V-neck sweater and plaid shirt talking about the need for the rich to pay more taxes but you can’t expect to be the fourth-richest man in the world if you don’t make bloodless decisions. Anyway, a lot of widows and orphans are probably invested in Berkshire Hathaway stock so one man’s misfortune is another’s good deal.

Leamington has a tomato-shaped tourist booth. This is the southernmost point of Canada on the northern shore of Lake Erie and the town promotes its warm climate. The main street looks neat and prosperous, like the homes in its subdivisions. But what’s a Leamington-area farmer to do when his tomatoes have no ketchup contract? Wynne might have done a two-track negotiation, taking over the plant in Leamington in exchange for saving Heinz severance costs while offering any large company, such as McDonald’s, lower costs and provincial discounts if they sourced their ketchup and pastes there. McDonald’s itself has more than 1,400 outlets in Canada, a lot of those in Ontario and there’s quite a few ways to arm-twist a company if you move fast and with agility. Maybe she tried and it was no go. Towns do die or fade and you can only hope Leamington will absorb the blows and prosper so that by Christmas the tender tomato has a happy future ahead in the fields of Leamington.

Almost everything has its moment of struggle. This past September, Point Pelee National Park, in the municipality of Leamington, cancelled its annual monarch butterfly count because there simply weren’t enough butterflies. Usually, they gather in the hundreds of thousands to start the flight to Mexico, so small and delicate a creature, with so long a journey now imperilled by habitat erosion. The struggle to survive has been in my consciousness so perhaps that too is why the Leamington news had a particular impact. A close relative, a man in his fifties, taped a hose from the exhaust pipe of his car to his mouth one night a few months ago and turned on the engine. Fortunately, he’d been so broke that necessary repairs hadn’t been done and the engine made enough of a racket to alert a passerby. He suffered from acute anxiety and had been unable to leave the room he lived in except to die. That introduced me to the shortage of mental health facilities for grown-ups. There’s a fair bit of help available for young people—not enough, so keep donating—but those humans not distinguished by youth, achievement, money or connections might as well be butterflies trying to head to Mexico with one wing. They’re dead before they can get off the ground. I’ve tried to help several adults over the age of 35 and if you’re lucky you can get a one-time appointment for them to be “assessed” and then they go on long waiting lists for cognitive behavioural therapy. Severe depression blankets them with exhausting sleeplessness and a heavy pain. Lives can regain some colour but it takes government resources more likely wasted on windmills or corruption.

The 1982 closing down of the Iron Ore Co. of Canada’s mining town of Schefferville, Que., is instructive. Then company president Brian Mulroney offered redundant workers benefit packages, a $16,000 payoff, assistance to relocate, company homes for $1 and a battery of plans to redevelop the area. Not perfect but damn good. Today’s capitalists lean more and more on the government or PR to do the work for them. The country song knew it all those years ago. “Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go / I owe my soul to the company store.”

Have a comment to share? barbara.amiel@macleans.rogers.com


Heinz: spilling blood and ketchup

  1. Start a boycott on McDonalds…..and a letter writing campaign on facebook. That should get the ball rolling.

    • This comment was deleted.


        • As I said, nobody in their right mind would go there. They continue to make money because people don’t have a problem with poisoning themselves, as long as it’s SLOW ENOUGH.

          When you look at the sheer amount of toxins, chemicals, WHOLLY untested GMOs in our “phude supply”, it just shows that we aren’t smart enough to know the difference between “life-sustaining food” and “corporate advertising slogans.”

          THEY’RE LOVIN’ IT!

    • Anyone with functioning taste buds would have boycotted McDonalds after the first visit.

    • I only eat McDonalds in the USA. Less Canadian price gouging that way.

  2. I’ve already stopped buying Heinz ketchup (and its other products !).

      • I’m sure the London boycott is really going to affect Heinz geez

        • Companies are sensitive to public opinion & this boycott could have an impact if the idea spreads. And if it doesn’t, as the owner in London says, he is making a business decision to not give Heinz any more money. It’s good to take a stand even if it doesn’t ultimately change anything.

          • Heck, we will get a safer product from the US as USDA, unlike over paid CFIA actually inspect stuff. (see XL foods e.coli issues for why I say this).

            Too bad Heinz is not pulically traded any more, as it is now private equity owned and under better management. If it were listed, I might buy them as it means management is no longer passive losers.

        • Yep, no sense in selling the product at a loss just because some cement for brains economists. Want welfare, see Ottawa as private business can’t print fraud money to screw it all up.

          For Heinz, it was the right thing to do. Now they don’t have to worry about union militancy, city/prob/fed government costs or CBSA bureaucracy. Just another business government and unions lost. And Heinz owners will not miss the losses.

          Even charity will hurt as Heinz contributed a lot to united way. But hey, government and union greed did it in.

          • Dave: This story is an example of CORPORATE greed…not union greed. HEINZ last year, had a revenue of $11.6 billion. Company was recently purchased by a billionaire looking to increase profits further. You are likely within the 99% of average Canadians who are not rich. Stop pointing fingers at those who are not the problem.

      • Then I wouldn’t go to the place. Fact is government, bad management and unions have made it uneconomical to do business in Canada isn’t my problem.

        I don’t buy GM for example as they used the tax man for the bailout, ripping off my family. Ditto the CRTC price carrel cell phones, I disconnected 4 years ago and enjoy the peace.

        Best revenge is not to feed the dysfunctional. My vote isn’t’ worth a damn but my spending and investing counts.

        Hey, if union members feel reality is wrong, they can buy the plant with their own money and prove me (and others) wrong, but reality is we are a tax inflated economy of debt and productive, investors are not getting enough while the lazy, idle and government greed gets it all.

        Its also why I have moved more offshore in the last 3+ years. Canada is a negative value economy of debt and too many whiners, not enough winners…

    • We just recently heard that Heinz has been using Monsanto’s “franken’maters” for years…it’ll probably be healthier for you that way, anyway.

      • Unfortunately, most of the tomatoes you get today have been spliced with Tobacco genes. How else do you think we can find hundreds of tomatoes on the store shelf that are completly perfect in every way exept flavour?
        If you want a good tomato, get some Heritage seeds and plant those. The result will be a pest filled garden with tomatoes missing large chunks of flesh as the catepillares tear into them…but man oh man…cut off the bad parts, and the rest is delicious and sweet.
        I hate GMO. Not for ideological reasons….but simply because they taste like crap. Anyone old enough to remember when strawberries weren’t the size of a small apple….and actually tasted sweet?

        • Bruddamon, you’re preachin’ to the choir on that one, and I’m 100% with you on it, too!

          Except that, now that the pests have grown accustomed to toxins in the environment, if you’re gonna get pests, they’re coming no matter what you grow.

          I have had some luck with grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, with the exception of the bloody squirrels. They take one bite and throw the rest on the ground. VERY annoying! (They were all FREE anyway, since that was my first experiment with saving seeds.)

          I detest the GMO idea for many reasons, not the least of which you already mentioned, and I’ve TRIED to get people to think of “heritage” or “Heirloom” or “landrace” seeds (pretty much all means the same thing: the plant strains been in the area, or the climate zone, for at least 30 years, have adapted to grow there well, and are NOT genetically modified), and to grow them in place of their cheaper, more toxic alternatives.

          Once people grow a few plants that taste better than the garbage on the store shelves, they’ll rather pay less and get more, than to keep “paying ever more for ever less.”

          • Want to know what is really scary? Out of control human popuation growth means we can no longer feed the world without the toxins, without the poisons, without the GMO….and 90% of the fisheries to are in trouble…..

            10 years from now there will not be enough food to feed the massive population growth out of Africa.

            I even predict 3++ billion people will die this century in starvation or wars for food and resources like water. And the UN feed and breed program is just making it worse.

            All avoidable, but collective we as a species are headed to a dark place.

          • For the squirrels, get a live trap and a barrel of water.
            Use peanut butter for bait.
            Works every time.

            Covering them with plastic or metal mesh will help, also.

        • I have raspberry patch in a 20×30 patch in the back yard. Yum…get gallons of raspberries every year and they are wild bushes with real flavor. Makes pies good enough for gods.

  3. spoken like a true plebeian. But I suppose Ms. Amiel has been told this many times

  4. This is how capitalism works.

    • Perhaps, but doesn’t make it right

      • A little late to worry about it, don’t you think?

        • Yep, cats out of the barn already. But far too many in this country have no clue of economics….and years of big government propaganda they don’t see why this has happened.

          Happened even as the CAD fell, so it even fails the NDP valueless money theory. But they don’t see that either. Why pay 6.38% more for tomatoes and sugar for a 94 cent loonie with union militancy in a tax inflated costly environment?

          Now that lazy Heinz management is fired, and taken over by private equity it is make money or go to unemployment hell. No more pandering. Its the way it should be.

          And investors are like workers, we don’t go to work to lose money.

          • Dave stop telling me your cockamamie economic theories

            If you actually WERE an investor, you’d know Heinz lost the Macdonald’s account because MacD doesn’t like their new CEO

          • Can you stop sharing your cockamamie ideas, emily? Thanks.

      • Or do you suggest running it like CBC, Air Canada that suck billions our of taxpayers wallets every year?

        After all union and governemtn catchup would cost $30 a bottle and no one would buy it, and have to use taxpayers and consumer taxes to inflate the economy some more.

        And not one politician wants to admit the root causes of why Canada is no longer economic to make many things. Real reason is producers, including investors don’t get enough and lazy, idle, whiney, politicians and greedy unions get too much.

        So no surprise Canada lost auto plants, Caterpillar, Heinz and others. Too many freeloaders and not enough productivity to continue, they leave. But you have big fat government you can’t afford. Enjoy your up to 283% cheese tariffs, and share of the $40+ billion in CBSA tariffs and hidden taxes even poor pay. Ottawa even gets the disabled, vets and retired with hidden taxes and below inflation raises on benefits, as its an illusion that big fat unproductive government works for us.

    • Yep, as investors are like workers, they don’t go to work to lose money.

      • Emily misses a lot of obvious points.

  5. No the point is capitalism doesn’t work. Not that it works like this. Capitalism is not sustainable and ianheavily damaging to all but the top 2% but you know money talk and hamanity and decency walks.

    • Capitalism is the only thing that does work.

      • But only HONEST capitalism…not the fiat/corporate/government fraud we’ve been saddled with for the last 40-odd years now.

        • And the reason governemtn can’t solve economic problems, as their corrupt polices on debt and currency fraud are causing the problems.

          No legitimate lenders are lending money to government below real inflation+taxes to lose value. Money is about monitization of fair trade, but if someone at the table can do NOTHING but create money, the fairness of the exchange using money deteriorates.

          And government just creates money, devaluing the currency. But I am sure media has been told not to report honestly on the following chart:


          BTW, USD is no longer the largest currency in the world, Yuan is.

      • Yep, capitalism has functioned well for 60,000 years or so when two humans traded goods and services each other had.

        The real problem is when government stands between the trade of cloths for fresh meat and food, they steal too much in the transaction so neither person who trades thinks its worthwhile. As government produces so little value, the economic transaction decays.

        Some wise and good economists call it the elasticity of taxation. If you tax via taxes or diluted currency too much, the economy starts suffering. Wage demands go up dis-proportionally to the value, and job loss happens.

        It why StatsCan lies about real inflation. Deceive people. The reality is US, Canada, Europe have hit their zenith, and now past the apex into a long value decline from too much governemtn consumption and not enough productive people to support it any more.

        Sure, we will get the 1.2% StatsCan raise, but stuff will cost 7% more for a 6% compounding lower standard of living…but we as a collective will have blind faith in morally crooked politicians.

    • TRUE capitalism works, but it needs to be based on sound economic principles, which all of the world’s economies gave up in the early 70’s, in favour of international banking cartels plans. (Google “Austrian Economics” and you’ll see the system that we should have been using for a long, long time now.)

      2008 was just the latest evidence that fiat currency fraud doesn’t work, and that is the true root of the global financial crisis that, despite what you hear on the news, is nowhere near over…we are NOT “in recovery” by any stretch of the imagination.

      The reason that “the top 2%” are the ones who are getting richer is simply because they were educated in the difference between “fiat currency” and “money”, and the remaining 98% of us “weren’t on the need-to-know list” for that rather vital tidbit of information.

      Luckily, once we can’t give pieces of paper to other countries for their goods any longer, we’ll have no other choice but to rebuild industry in Canada, once we can’t just get credit from foreign bankers to buy things we no longer think we need to produce in a self-sufficient manner.

      It will take decades, if not generations, to rebuild the Canadian gold reserves, which were entirely sold off in the 80’s, in order to return to a sound, backed currency. Let’s hope that we force OUR EMPLOYEES to move in this direction once the currency drops to zero, and we have no other option but to admit that the Bank of Canada needs to be producing our currency again, and that it must be backed, in order to retain it’s value.

      If this happens, the foreign bankers won’t be able to force us into hundreds of billions of dollars worth of fraudulent debt with whatever new monetary system we put in place when the current one is finally acknowledged to have failed due to the fiat currency fraud simply running it’s natural course.

      • “TRUE capitalism works”

        “True Capitalism” brought 100s of years of Human Slavery … only forceful GOVERNMENT regulation brought that to a stop … in the U$A anyway.

        • You honestly think that slavery has been “brought to a stop” in the states? You haven’t done much research on the private prison industry, or about the fiat currency fraud which put MILLIONS into lifetimes of debt slavery, and is still very much alive and well.

          • Ain’t “Free Market Capitalism” great?

            It doesn’t get much freer or capitalistic than FREE SLAVE LABOR.

          • “Fiat market, wholly-controlled capitalism for profit at any cost” isn’t “Capitalism.”

          • HipTip: Capitalism = FOR PROFIT … the HIGHEST and MAXIMUM Profit.


          • Just like a union member. And it works when both parties get a win-win.

            Problem happens when union greed, stupid statism bloat of government make it win-lose mentality the investors walk away to make it a lose-lose until the loser group can fix its attitude.

            Investors are like workers, we don’t go to work to lose money.

            Socialist-statism corruption is a great idea so long as the credit is good and other people pay for it. When the credit runs out and those that pay for it leave, they can all share having nothing but unemployment, debt and discontentment.

          • Yep, Ottawa loves the tax slaves of state. You earn $100 to pay $40 in employment/income taxes, $10 to city taxes, and $23 of carbon taxes to buy $27 of gasoline that has labour and employment taxes inside.

            All so you can drive to work and pay more taxes, as $100 for $27 of product means government benefits more than you do.

            Similarity a dentist, you make $400 to pay $$160 in income/employment taxes, $40 towards property/utility taxes, to get $200/hr for a teach cleaning where at least 1/2 of which goes to income/employment/utility/fees/licenses to the hygenist, dentist and business owners…so at most its a $100 tax out value. Yep, you earned $400 for a $100 tooth cleaning. Again, government benefits more than you do.

            Which makes working productive people economic tax slaves of big government state when governemtn benefits from your existence more than you do.

            But we have to fund the millions on one social program or another and government politicians and unions expect those fat salaries and raises to really not produce much at all except make governemtn appear more important than it is to deceive you out of more money. Lots of CBC like brainwashing to keep people from asking, why so much taxes?

        • Funny, any productive worker in Canada has a total tax load of over 50% when you consider debt, inflation, income, employment, property, utility, GST/PST and a long list of hidden taxes people don’t even know exist. Even add in that stuff costs more as protectionism and taxes inside what you buy push almost every productive worker in Canada past the 50% taxation mark.

          The reality is that taxation is the new form of slavery. Not one option on my ballot to reduce taxes and reduce governemtn waste. Heck, they can’t even fire senators that tax evade and embezzle on expense reports.

          Its all about deceiving people out of their money and do just enough to appear legitimate. Even Harper says “TFSAs cost government”…it doesn’t cost government nothing, it just means leaving people with more of their own money. Government doesn’t own us, but they think they do…we are after all economic slaves of corrupt state.

      • Wow, you said that right. As treating money as an investment be it cash, bonds, mortgages is now a fools game. Money is depreciating faster than the returns. Reason banks don’t pay fair interest is that the future value of fiat bank money is deteriorating to zero.

        Reason is simple, Ottawa/BoC and DC/US Fed now electronically counterfeit more money than we consume in sheets of toilet paper. (yes, I did the math). This dilutes the value of money. If I own 100 shares in a company/currency with 1000 shares outstanding, I have 10% value. But if the corrupt company/government doubles the shares but doesn’t fairly give me my share. then I have 5% of the company not 10% and have been defrauded. In currency this means 100% inflation.

        The 6 cent loss to the USD means everything is going to cost 6.38% more, and many companies who can’t pass on the added costs of materials will layoff, like Heinz, Caterpillar and more. Yet the economic idiots still say a low value money is good….want to ignore it means labour unrest, inflation debt ultimately a lower standard of living.

        Debt and lending fraud is never free or cheap, just a mater of who and how its paid for.

    • Wrong, capitalism has existed from the day a hunter brought fresh meat to the camp and was willing to trade some for soothing of hunting injuries, some womanly care, tanning of leathers for cloths and civilization started as we traded services. This capitalism of trade has never ceased since.

      But now you have big fat bloated governments printing money, and money being and exchange marker of trade, the cost structure is now out of whack because of government greed and economic ignorance of the masses.

      Reality is Heinz workers made more money than they should. But the money they got after taxes to spend on price inflated Canada didn’t go to far. So why hang around to pay more, lose money and deal with union rant?

      The real problems are that we have a tax inflated economy of debt and monetary fraud. No surprise they leave, much of my money was out of Canada 3 years ago.

      As asking investors to lose money is like asking workers to pay employers to go to work. No one works without that fair trade….investors+workers make money. If investors don’t make money, why invest?

      Capitalism has been with us since we first formed tribes and groups of people working together some 60,000 years go. And it will never change so long as two humans have something each other wants..

  6. Considering that this was written by Lady Black of Crossharbour, you have to ponder the bottomless irony of the situation.

  7. Out east, in Newfoundland, a lot of people lost their livlihoods due to the moritorium on cod fishing. Fish plants closed overnight, entire communities lost their jobs. Out of this, TOURISM was the created. Those same people who lost their only livlihood, opened up bed and breakfasts, quilters and knitters opened little stores where they also sold their unique jams and other local products. This didn’t happen all at once, it took time.

    • Actually, Leamington used to have a thriving tourist industry, but it’s waned quite a bit over the years. The article mentioned the Monarchs, which I remember, when I was a kid, used to coat the trees down by Point Pelee so thickly that the trees literally turned brown…and when there was a light breeze, BILLIONS of monarchs fluttered their wings and all of those brown trees turned a brilliant orange…just for a bit…and then “faded back to brown” again over the next 30 seconds or so.

      It was an amazing thing to see…but it’s only a memory, now.

      David Suzuki used to live in Leamington when he was a kid,
      so he may have a similar memory of his own…it’ll be interesting to
      see what his childhood recollections will be, once he hears about the
      current situation in town. I know he loved it down at the point, and
      has made note of that many times over the years.

      But yes, we could refocus on restoring the old tourist trade again, but the largest problem Leamington faces is an elected body which doesn’t consider the future important. Not in long range terms, anyway. They have failed to plan for anything properly for many, many years, so it’ll be a shock if they do the right thing in this instance, to put it mildly. Politicians all over Canada have proven to have incredibly limited vision…Leamington’s no different, in that respect.

  8. To have the wife of the ultimate corporate raider, does anyone remember Massey Ferguson, write about this issue is beyond the pall.
    To the Leamington people, I advise writing to every Canadian processor and explaining WHY your town would be perfect for their expansion, yes it will take time, BUT the American Smucker/Bicks plant has been transformed into the Canadian Original Foods plant in Dunnville (150 JOBS) It IS possible. As the Canadian population clues into the American corporate raider mentality, the tide towards supporting Canadian jobs over offshore cheap food stuff that is NOT produced to Canadian standards will turn.
    Conservative Senator Don Plett testified at the hearing for food safety ” There are NO existing provisions to prevent unsafe imported products from entering our country in the first place. What’s more when an importer breaks the law our enforcement measures are not as stringent as they could be”
    With the conservative CUT, CUT, CUT mentality I doubt they will improve in the future.

  9. Governments (globally) need regulations preventing corporations from coming in and exhausting all the resources of communities. Be it in mineral form, or human form. Corporations are offered huge tax breaks and incentives by governments in order to attract their business. However, when wages & benefits get to high, corporations look elsewhere for the next set of incentives, tax breaks and low wage employees. The problem is not capitalism. The problem is that governments need to ensure that if a company sets up shop AND is given tax payers money to do so, compensation must be given back to the government if they decide to relocate. In turn, should be redistributed to locally, not in their coffers.
    Governments worldwide need to come together to stop the corporate machine from further separating the have’s from the have not’s. Think it wont happen to you? Who do you work for?? I’m sure it has links to a multi-national corporation. If you are so “lucky” to be self-employed, wait till the corporations further exercise their muscle and drive prices down so far, that you cant compete. This is not a anti corporate rant. It stems much deeper than that. Corporations have become so powerful that they now dictate laws and policies. Governance has become subservient to corporations. Wake up people, Slavery is NOT dead. We have become a society of vast consumerism. Our sole role in society is to buy, buy, buy. and further increase corporation profits.

    Other intellectuals who offer insightful comments

    @daily_chomsky @chrislynnhedges, @HenryGiroux

  10. Rather than pick on the author, it is probably time to pick on the provincial libs again.
    I bet the increased electrical bill had a lot to do with the closure – if a business is not profitable it does not keep running
    This is only one of many businesses that are escaping Ontario which has become even more an unfriendly place to carry on manufacturing and retail businesses

    • We built Ontario Hydro, and let OUR EMPLOYEES run it into bankruptcy, then allowed them to sell it to a private concern, and accepted it when OUR EMPLOYEES signed over their debt to us, and allowed the corporation who bought our stolen property to collect the debt THEY assumed from us in addition.

      Remember: WE paid for Ontario Hydro to be built. WE paid for the power while it was being built. WE paid for the power while OUR EMPLOYEES were running the system into the ground. Power prices are the least of our worries at this point…we have allowed a million precedents to be set which tell OUR EMPLOYEES that they can do whatever they damned well please to us, with the assets they created from OUR blood, sweat, tears and decades of labour…and we won’t bat an eye.

      The talk around town at present is that the plant will be “left to the town”, in order to eliminate the corporation’s tax liability, while concurrently offloading the costs to clean up the property once it is no longer an operating concern (read: “Here’s some free land…it’s all yours! YOU clean it up.”)

      It’s a BIG property. It’ll cost the taxpayers of Leamington MILLIONS just to safely level the buildings and cart off the waste material after it’s demolished. And Leamington won’t have the available currency to take care of those costs. People are already paying high enough taxes, and they can’t afford to pay even more, especially with the global fiat currency fraud continuing to unravel and driving the costs for EVERYTHING ever higher.

      Sure, a few investors will be happy…but really, the most important thing that will come of this “wonderful business deal” is that about 60,000 people are going to suffer. Heinz’s business operations in Leamington are just the focus of the operation. Farmers for miles around are losing a guaranteed source of income. All manner of skilled trades will be out of work. Dozens of suppliers of equipment, supplies, cans, boxes, bottles, jars and more will all lose one of their biggest sources of revenue. The spillover losses haven’t even been considered yet, let alone calculated.

      But hey…it’s just business…and aren’t corporate profits going into a very few pockets a lot more important than the futures of tens of thousands of people?

      Oh, well…at least whoever replaces Heinz might have sense enough not to use Monsanto’s GMO tomatoes…it might result in a safer bottle of ketchup?

  11. Beautifully written piece by an underrated writer.
    For those who want to slam Amiel because they believe she must be a witch since she chose to support her man who had a little legal problem, I might remind you that you can`t fake the kind of compassion and humanity that shines through in this written word.
    Or maybe you guys do recognize that in Barbara this time which is why many of the usual suspects decided to hold off on their usual reflex to accuse of ulterior motives.

  12. This article lacks focus to get the point across. It goes from ketchup to butterflies to mental health issues. Tighten up the writing to get the main point/concern across more effectively to the reader.

    • Oh my I was thinking the same thing! 3 different issues in 1 article, very hard to read through to the end.

  13. “Lives can regain some colour but it takes government resources more likely wasted on windmills or corruption.” If you substitute pellet plant for windmills, the federal government wasted millions on a pellet plant in Merritt, BC that never opened; so yes, I completely agree with Ms. Amiel.

  14. “Efforts to protect jobs and benefits for workers need to take a class approach. Canadian nationalism benefits only the bosses. It deflects attention away from the real problem,
    capitalism. The maximization of private profits, a driving force of the global capitalist system, is the culprit in this drama.

    Workers and farmers have power if they unite. In this case, workers in
    Leamington should occupy the factory, take control of the machinery, and
    operate the equipment for food processing – a socially useful


    • How quaint!

  15. Well, at least the plant is being closed without the pension plan being raped, like good old Conrad did to those pesky Dominion store workers a few decades back, right Babs???

  16. Thank you Barbara for your article highlighting Leamington. I want you and your readers to hear about a new grassroots, community-based, non-partisan, volunteer movement created in response to the shutdown of the Heinz plant in Leamington. I am a co-founder. We’re calling this initiative, Leamington Stands Strong. Please goggle us and learn more about our vision.

    Leamington Stands Strong spreads a message of hope within the whole community of Leamington. We see this as a big bump in the road. But not the end of a great journey.

    We know that people will always have to eat. And we know there will always be people who demand the very best for their dollar. People who expect flavour, colour, texture, taste, quality and a product grown under the most idyllic conditions found anywhere in the World. That place is still Leamington. It’s not going anywhere.

    Because of this, we know there will always be a Leamington Tomato. It’s not going anywhere either. H.J. Heinz knew this too when he chose to open a factory in Leamington 104 years ago. We say without the Leamington Tomato in the bottle, it may as well be empty.

    When one door closes another opens. Leamington Stands Strong is re-branding the Leamington Tomato so that the people of Canada, the true tomato connoisseurs will still be able to enjoy it.

    When the Heinz doors close; Canadians please vote with your mouths. Vote for the Leamington Tomato. Together we will make sure that Leamington Stands Strong – forever! Thank you.

    • I’ m glad to hear that the town is taking action Tom. Even half a world away I can’t help but hope that Leamington could come out of this by creating a new product that could wipe Heinz out of business. They may have the name but Leamington has the products, now we have to figure out how to brand it and give Heinz a taste of their own medicine.
      I’ve never been a big vegetable person but even I know the best produce in the country comes from Essex county! Good Luck!

  17. Leamington will still be the “Tomato Capital of Canada” – 12 months a year. The highest concentration of high tech greenhouses in North America are based in and around Leamington. Approximately 2000 acres are under glass, with 824 acres producing in excess of 420 million pounds of tomatoes in 2012 (plus 300 million pounds of cucumbers and 165 million pounds of bell peppers) . This produce is shipped fresh to points across Canada and throughout central and eastern USA.
    Produce grown in greenhouses avoids the use of pesticides through Integrated Pest Management- good bugs controlling bad bugs. People think that greenhouse tomatoes lack the flavour of field grown, but varieties ( all non-GMO) ranging from Heirloom to Beefsteak to Cluster (TOV) to Roma to specialties like Cherry, Strawberry and Grape Tomatoes are all grown for flavour, with varying colours, tastes, textures, brix (sugar) levels and acid balance- all which give distinctive characteristics to each variety.
    This does not make use of the Heinz factory building itself, but the skilled labour would be of great value to the 224 greenhouse operations in Ontario who have been working with local school boards and St. Clair College to develop training for numerous positions with the industry. Off-shore labour is used in the greenhouses themselves, but skilled growers, mechanics, engineers, electricians, truck drivers, packaging experts and designers, office staff, accountants, greenhouse scouts, line workers and more are always needed.
    I was born and raised in Leamington, moved away fro a decade and came back to work as a designer in the food industry for more than 20 years. Heinz has been a great employer and corporate citizen for a century, but I have faith that the town can reinvent itself- still as both a producer of top quality produce supplying North America, and, because of our temperate climate, as a retirement community.

    Have faith Leamington residents- we WILL survive.

  18. Second hand smoke killed the butterflies.

  19. I have always been sickened by the story from my brother-in-law who worked for Heinz years ago, the sweeper always swept the rat turds into the mix.

    • Another heartwarming family tale from the Hillbilly Chronicles.

  20. Yep, love value money just made it happen faster as something cenment head economists do not grasp is a 94 cent loonie means a (1/.96-1)=6.38% increase of raw materials and that also means no raises unless the costs can be passed on, and many business can’t do it.

    Its also why Ottawa is concerned so much of offshore accounts. As savvy investors, and even CPP Canada has been moving money offshore for better returns and to avoid the rapid depreciation/inflation of the CAD….

    Say I put $100,000 CAD into USD at par earlier this year, now its worth $106,383 without even investing it. I haven’t really made value, but I made money and hedged against the inflationary effects of low value CAD.

    But employers now have to pay 6.38% more for the next batches of raw materials. So Heinz said why bother with militant unions, tax greed, CBSA bureaucracy and tax greed and just leave. Canada just became uneconomical for them to operate. And why we have less jobs.

    But hey, we love our myths of the valueless money to keep economic idiots happy. But for investors like me, been moving money offshore and out of deadbeat Canada as between weak currency and pathetic returns well below real inflation, Canada isn’t the best place to invet in right now. Even CPP Canada knows it.

  21. Socialist-union-statism corruption is a great idea so long as the credit is good and other people pay for it. When the credit runs out and those that pay for it leave, they can all share having nothing but unemployment, debt and discontentment.

    As no one makes money with losers.

  22. Everybody should boycott Heinz products!!!